Intellistitch Mini Lessonsby : Carol A. Thelen
Precision Quilting™ for Stitch in the Ditch and Outlining
I love to use the Precision Quilting™ mode on my Intellistitch. It is perfect for those times when I need to place the stitches just where I want them. This mode slows down the speed of the motor and the force of the needle as it enters the fabric.
A perfect example is when stitching in the ditch or outline quilting. I set the stitch length to ten stitches per inch because I like the look of that length. For SID I place my 2" x 6" ruler against the hopping foot and aim the needle just next to the hump of fabric. For outline stitching I place the edge of the ruler along the seam line. I can take one stitch then move the machine slightly to where I want the next stitch. My SID and outline quilting have never looked better. For stitching around curves I use Rob's Needle Guide or Stitch Guide. These stitch guides help me push and pull the needle to just the right place along the curves.
Using the Needle Down Feature
Okay, I was a little confused at first trying to get familiar with the Needle Down feature of the Intellistitch because it does not work in the same way as my old needle down. As a safety feature, the system is set to begin stitching ONLY when the needle is in the up position. This helps prevent broken needles and ripped fabric.
If the motor is not running and you press the Needle Down button, the needle goes down. When you press the run button in any mode, the needle first pulls out of the fabric then the stitching can begin . If you are in stitch regulation or Precision Quilting™ mode the needle pulls up and stays there until you move the machine. If you are in constant speed mode there is a slight pause after the needle pulls up before the stitches begin.
I use this feature in stitch regulation mode for a variety of things. When I am stitching along and need to stop along the line of stitching for some reason, such as repositioning either the ruler or my feet, the Needle Down feature allows me to have a smooth stitching line throughout. Examples are stitching a line from one edge of the quilt to the other or stitching in the ditch. In these cases you want no wobbles or bumps and you want the stitches to end in the corners. Like any new routine, I was able to learn how to use the Needle Down feature without thinking about it.
Feathers and Swirls and Leaves, Oh My!
When these "computer assisted" machines first came out, I thought "Why do I want a computer on my machine?" Yes, I have experience and am quite happy with the look of my stitches. But I also know that we use the new tools and gadgets and techniques to improve the quality or speed of our quilting and I have noticed improvements when I do freehand work with the stitch regulation.
For all my freehand work I use stitch regulation at either eight or ten stitches per inch. When I did freehand work before Intellistitch, I cranked up the speed and went off stitching. Often I would stitch a feather or leaf or swirl not quite as good as I would have liked because I took my attention off the stitching to look ahead to where I was going in the next few seconds. Stitching this way at constant speed did not allow me time to pause even for a split second. If I did, I would have tiny, uneven stitches between even, longer stitches.
Stitch regulation allows me the time to make my design decisions. I can slow down or even stop momentarily to plan where to go next and I have noticed an improvement in the consistency of my freehand work.
Using Templates and Rulers
Templates and rulers can be great time savers and help me to stitch beautiful designs. The hardest thing about using templates and rulers is trying to keep the template straight while trying to keep the stitches even. This problem is solved beautifully when I use stitch regulation mode of the Intellistitch.
To stitch completely around a template such as a circle or teddy bear, you must be careful that the template does not slip while stitching around it. You need to be sure to stop at the same point you started or the shape is not perfect. In stitch regulation mode I don't have to worry about the length of my stitches. Instead, I can concentrate on keeping the template in place and moving the hopping foot against it. To secure the stitches, I have found it looks nicer to take one or two securing stitches on top if each other at the beginning. Then as you come around the template to the beginning, stitch directly over the previous stitching for 4 or 5 stitches. This prevents the clumping of stitches in one place. With stitch regulation you can slow down enough to make sure that the stitches overlap perfectly.
One feature of the Intellistitch system is the motion detector in the constant speed mode. The constant speed mode is when the motor stitches at the same speed no matter how fast you move the machine. I usually stitch in constant speed mode when I have a pattern with lots of points or sharp changes in direction. The constant speed lets me stitch faster and still get crisp points.
One frustrating part of stitching at constant speed is the inability to stop momentarily to change position of my feet or to just look ahead to the next area to be stitched. With Motion Detector I can stop moving the machine and the motor will stop stitching. When I move the machine again the motor starts again at constant speed. This feature is like having an automatic on/off switch of the motor.